All property managers know that vacation rental reviews and ratings are important. A good review could be the difference between a guest deciding to book your rental or moving on to look at the next listing. In addition, reviews are a major ranking factor for OTAs like Airbnb and Booking.com, which means that they play a part in determining whether a guest comes across your listing in the first place.
And yet, for some reason, reviews often get left out of the conversation when talking about distribution and revenue management. Property managers tend to focus on other optimisation techniques, like setting up discounts and adjusting prices. While these may be crucial, they’re not the only ways to increase bookings, occupancy and revenue.
At Rentals United, we want to help property managers get the most out of their listings. And we believe that ignoring reviews and failing to do basic review management is a mistake. That’s why we’ve created a tool that will help you stay on top of your Airbnb and Booking.com reviews and manage them in a quick and efficient way, without having to log in to the channels’ extranet.
In this article, we’ll tell you all about it – but first, we’ll talk about why you should care about reviews in the first place.
Why vacation rental reviews are more important than you think
- Reviews help you build trust. Since reviews act as social proof, they’re the most powerful tool you have to build trust with potential guests. When a guest has had no prior experience with your company, there’s nothing like an authentic review written by another guest to reassure them and help validate their choices. Simply put, reviews turn browsers into bookers.
- Reviews give you more visibility. OTAs prioritise listings with lots of good reviews because they’re more likely to be booked by new guests. As a result, 5-star reviews help you rank higher on Vrbo and are crucial for Airbnb SEO. The more good reviews you have, the more likely that guests will see your listings on OTAs and the more conversions you’ll get.
- Responding to reviews allows you to show off your customer service skills. By responding to a negative review in an attentive, cordial way, you can show potential guests that you provide impeccable customer service. If there is a problem, you come up with a solution instead of trying to hide or ignore it.
To sum up, reviews make your listings more easily discoverable, and once discovered, more appealing to guests. This has tangible results, for example, an increase in occupancy.
According to vacation rental data provider Transparent, there is a correlation between higher review count and occupancy, as well as higher rating and occupancy. Take a look at the graphs below:
It’s clear that listings with more and better reviews on OTAs enjoy higher occupancy, reinforcing the notion that reviews are an important decision-making factor for guests.
How to use vacation rental reviews to your advantage
If you’re a property manager who likes to stay on top of their guest communication, you’re probably already sending guests automated review requests on the day they check out. Maybe you even send a follow-up email a few days later if the first one didn’t achieve the intended result.
In addition, you also log into all your channel extranets now and again to see if there are any new reviews that need responding. But, if you’re like most property managers we talk to, your review management efforts end there.
As we teased at the beginning of the article, we think that this approach to vacation rental reviews leaves something to be desired. If what we described above is all you do, you could be missing out on huge opportunities to boost your bookings, occupancy and revenue.
For example, are you checking if all your listings have recent reviews?
Let’s say it’s been six months since one of your listings has received a guest review. There’s a good chance new prospects are going to notice that – and decide not to book. If you were the guest, wouldn’t you trust a listing that has several raving reviews from the past month more than one that nobody has reviewed for half a year?
Your listings need recent reviews at the time when guests want to book – not when they want to stay. So, have a look at your booking windows from the previous year and make sure that by the time your heavy booking season starts, all your properties are equipped with fresh reviews.
This is just one example of a review management trick you’re probably not using yet. We’ve got many more up our sleeves. And, we’ve gone the extra mile and created additional tools in RU Data Studio, our revenue success product, that can help you stay on top of your reviews with minimal effort. Let’s see how it works.
How to get the most out of your Airbnb and Booking.com reviews
Since Rentals United is a Preferred Software/Connectivity Partner of both Airbnb and Booking.com, we’ve been able to build a new tool that uses the Airbnb and Booking.com Reviews API to pull your ratings and reviews into RU Data Studio.
This means that you can analyse all your Airbnb and Booking.com review activity directly in the RU Data Studio platform without having to log into the Airbnb or Booking.com extranet. And not only can you see all your reviews and ratings, you can also take actions to make sure that your listings are putting their best foot forward when it comes to reviews.
Here are a few things you can do:
- See an overview of all your Airbnb and Booking.com listings’ reviews and ratings for a specific date range. You can even see the rating per reservation (which is not available in the Airbnb extranet – you can only see the average rating there).
- See your average score on various metrics like Location, Cleanliness, Value, Facilities, Comfort, Staff, Communication, Check-in, Accuracy. (Some of these are only for Booking.com or Airbnb, others are common metrics between the two channels. Since Airbnb uses a scale of 5 and Booking.com a scale of 10, we’ve levelled the scores.)
- Filter your listings by channel, city, bedroom type, property name and average review score.
- See your top 10 reviewed properties and bottom 10 reviewed properties at a glance. This allows you to quickly identify which listings need immediate attention.
- See how many reviews you received on each day of the week. This helps you figure out what the best day is for sending review requests or reminders to your guests via email.
- Keep an eye on your response rate. If the percentage is low, you’re probably not doing enough to show showcase your attentiveness to potential guests.
- Search for specific words mentioned in reviews. For Booking.com, you can search separately in the positive or the negative comments section. This helps you identify recurring themes and efficiently address them.
- Easily find reviews that you can respond to and reply without logging into Airbnb or Booking.com.
- Export the data so you can create a workflow and delegate review responses to anyone in your team.
To see just how much time this new tool can save you, watch this video:
The bottom line: Optimise your vacation rental reviews to boost your occupancy
Finding a way to efficiently manage your vacation rental reviews will be key to increasing your occupancy in 2022.
If you’re already sending your guest’s emails asking them to leave a review, great. If, on top of that, you also regularly log into your channel accounts to check on your reviews, even better.
But this year, if you really want to get the most out of your listings, you’re going to have to take things a step further. You can start by making sure all your listings have recent reviews by the time your heavy booking season kicks off.
And, you can use a tool like RU Data Studio Reviews to help you improve your workflow and make the process of review management much more efficient.
May 2022 bring you hundreds of stellar reviews and increased occupancy rates!